People facing criminal charges have a lot to deal with, and the level of government that levied charges against them is probably not one of their biggest considerations. However, the difference between federal and state criminal charges is far larger than the juries or judges who try to deliver justice.

A 33-year-old man from Madison was indicted by a grand jury in connection with a robbery at gunpoint earlier this year. The suspect showed a firearm to employees of a pizza shop during the incident before attempting to elude capture in a nearby park. He was ultimately arrested by Madison police then taken into custody on a federal warrant.

The man was charged with robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. The charge of robbery alone could result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years if the suspect is convicted in federal court.

Under federal law, the firearm charge in this case and others like it carries its own penalty of up to five years in federal prison, and the sentence must be served consecutively. This is a significant penalty compared to the concurrent sentences that many convicts serve due to state charges.

People convicted on federal charges may be liable for steeper punishments than if a county or state in Wisconsin presses charges. As a result, the proper legal defense against federal charges is perhaps even more important. An attorney can work with defendants to prepare a defense, work with prosecutors to find alternatives and represent a person’s interests in court.